Saturday, September 19, 2020

Saturday, September 19, 2020 12:31 am by M. in ,    No comments

An interesting new book on Elizabeth Gaskell and her circle:

Mrs. Gaskell's Personal Pantheon
Illuminating Mrs. Gaskell's Inner Circle

Robert C G Gamble
Edward Everett Root Publishers
ISBN: 9781913087463 

This new book vividly presents previously undiscovered biographical information about Elizabeth Gaskell, the author of Mary Barton, Cranford, The Life of Charlotte Brontë, and Wives and Daughters.
It also provides much contextual material about Harriet Martineau, the Brontë family and the history of Manchester.
In particular it casts significant fresh light on Mrs Gaskell’s influential inner circle of friends, adding to our appreciation of her writings and of her life.
The book uncovers some of the mysteries of Mrs Gaskell’s key relationships, most notably concerning Miss Mitchell, who has previously been misidentified in Gaskell biography. Given Mrs Gaskell’s statement that Miss Mitchell was one of the two principal influences in her life, a deeper understanding of this shadowy presence and the figures around her is vital to our understanding of the author.
Existing orthodoxy identifies Miss Mitchell as Rosa Mitchell, a visiting governess in the Gaskell household. However, the Miss Mitchell mentioned repeatedly in Mrs Gaskell's letters was in fact Rosa's much older sister, Janetta Bishop Mitchell. Janetta is shown to have been an important mentor, not only to Mrs Gaskell but also to the writer Harriet Martineau. Janetta was an example of the many sophisticated women with few material resources who, despite remaining unmarried and culturally invisible, nevertheless found their own paths in 19th-century English society.

The Martineau Society has an article on the book. The author gave recently a (virtual) talk at the Gaskell Society presenting his book:



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